Friday, December 7, 2018

It seems that we are going to have constitutional amendments in Egypt : Voters be ready in 2019 !!

Earlier Friday, we found out that Egypt’s Urgent Matter Court scheduled a hearing 23 December 2018 to demand the parliament to look into a lawsuit demanding constitutional amendments that will cancel the presidential terms limits officially.

A ballot box at a polling station in Egypt's Giza
A ballot box at a polling station in Giza during the
Constitution referendum in 2012
The news was originally published by Egypt’s Official State-owned News agency MENA and according to it, a bunch of concerned citizens from lawyers “they are always good citizens” want to amend article No.140 of Current Egyptian Constitution that limit the presidential terms to two four-years-terms in the office.

Those citizens want to change the article because they want to re-elect current president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi from here to eternity as long as “the public wants it”.
Article No. 140 stipulates the following :
The President of the Republic shall be elected for a period of four calendar years, commencing from the day following the termination of the term of his predecessor. The President may only be reelected once.
I did not support or vote even for that constitution as I was so sick during its referendum but I have to say that this was one of its best articles.
According to article No.226, the articles of the constitution can be amended by the request of the president or one-fifth of the MPs in the House of the Representatives and that request must be discussed within 30 days.
The amendment of one or more of the Constitution articles may be requested by the President of the Republic or one-fifth of the members of the House of Representatives. The request specifies the articles to be amended and the reasons for the amendments. In all cases, the House of Representatives will debate the request within 30 days from the date of its receipt. The House issues its decision to accept the request in whole or in part by a majority of its members. If the request is rejected, the same amendments may not be requested again before the next legislative term. If the amendment request is approved by the House, it discusses the text of the articles to be amended within 60 days from the date of approval. If approved by a two-thirds majority of the House’s members, the amendment is put to public referendum within 30 days from the date of approval. The amendment is effective from the date on which the referendum’s result and the approval of a valid majority of the participants in the referendum are announced.
The argument of those who want to amend it and to change to infinity and beyond is that Presidents like El-Sisi don’t have enough presidential terms in hard times “that never ends in our place in the worlds”.
Some say that we must have it like the French “5 years” but ironically the French presidents also have only two concessive presidential terms.
I do not need to remind them the President of the United States aka, the leader of the Free world and the West only has got two presidential terms.

This is not the first time we got calls in Egypt to “unlimit” the presidential terms constitutionally if you remember last year but this time it seems really serious especially with that lawsuit and media campaigns as well the parliamentarians leading for public campaigns as well.

We got figures like Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Egyptian Orthodox Coptic Church commenting for the first time about the demands to amend the constitution publicly.
In an interview with Ten TV channel last week, Pope Tawadros II said that if there was a need for a constitutional amendment then there should be an amendment as the constitution is “man-made”.
It is a diplomatic answer that was considered as an endorsement in the media. “In the same interview, Pope Tawadros II praised Prince Mohamed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia

In the media, Pro-regime TV hosts and journalists like Mohamed El-Baz and Moatez Abdel Fattah speak about the importance and the necessity to amend the constitution day and night whether in their columns or TV shows. “Spare me from linking to their work”

Future of homeland Party has been leading a popular campaign to gather signatures for petitions across the country to amend the constitution.
Future of homeland party is considered currently unofficially the largest party in the parliament.
According to the Constitution, as I mentioned above, you only need one-fifth of the MPs to request an amendment to the constitution to force the House of representatives.

I do not hear voices opposing to those amendments especially by those who originally drafted the 2014 Constitution including former Presidential Candidate Amr Moussa who founded along others an NGO in 2016 to protect the Constitution. 

"The Egyptian Institution to Protect the Constitution" NGO made a small news earlier November as Moussa declared that it was participating in amending the controversial NGOs law.

Mada Masr published a very interesting report about the plans to amend the Constitution saying that the whole issue is being led by none other than Mahmoud El-Sisi himself, the current President son who works in the General Intelligence Directorate.
It is not the first time one reads his names in such news reports.

The report which quotes an anonymous source claims that there would be other amendments in the constitution that would limit the role of the parliament and its authority as well as to restore the Shura Council !!

If the Mada Masr report is true then I believe that it would be better to save an effort to restore back the 1971 Constitution !!

The call to amend the constitution comes at the same time a bunch of so-called “seculars” in Egypt are demanding a constitutional amendment to allow the dismissal of Al Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tiyab because he is allegedly conservative block who is opposing to El-Sisi’s plans to modernize and change the religious discourse in Egypt.
Article No.7 in the current constitution “which most of those so-called seculars support too” stipulates the following :
Al-Azhar’s Grand Sheikh is independent and may not be dismissed. The Law shall regulate the method of appointing the Grand Sheikh from amongst the members of Council of Senior Scholars.
Those so-called seculars do not give a damn for the constitution or the political freedoms or true freedom of expressions or thought or human rights for real.

Now personally I believe if the advocates of constitution amendments try to attract seculars or there is an attempt to get rid of El-Tiyab by amending article No.7 along with article No.140, it will yield an opposite result and actually will be a dangerous game for the regime.

Simply Grand Emam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tiyab and Al-Azhar are popular are in Egypt outside the social media and mainstream media bubble.
It is Al-Azhar and its grand sheikh, the protectors of Islam in Egypt.
I would dare and say that amending that article is actually more challenging than amending the Presidential terms limit articles.

Historically, the Egyptian Constitution of 1971 was amended in 1980 to allow the President then “Anwar Sadat” to run for the office forever after. “Former First lady Jihan Sadat says that her husband did not intend to so

An Egyptian voter casting his vote at a polling station in Egypt's Giza
An Egyptian voter casting his vote a polling station in Giza during the 2012 referendum 

To make the amendments acceptable publicly, the second article of that constitution which originally stipulates that “Islam is the official religion of the State” was amended to become “Islam is the official religion of the state and the Islamic Sharia is the official source of legislation”.

Despite the news of that lawsuit is important and alarming yet no one is paying attention.
Maybe because it is Friday or maybe the news is not covered as it should whether in the social media or the mainstream.

The mainstream media focused on issues like that Danish photographer and his girlfriend who filmed themselves while having sex at the top of the great pyramid of Giza.
On the other hand, the social media was still speaking about Rania Youssef, the crazy Danish couple and that usual football fight between Ahly SC and Zamalek SC that reminded me personally of the ol’ good days of Mubarak.

The mission is done perfectly and nobody is focusing on things that truly matter whether political or economically as well.

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